Coffee & Tea

Making coffee you love starts with great beans—read up on the latest coffee news and more.
  • Video Roundup: 6/21/2019

    It's that time again for another video roundup! Let's see what's in store this week!

    First up, our crew tasted SCG's June Roast of the Month!

    Next up, Allie gave us some awesome Chemex tips and tricks.

    And to round out the week, another Coffee Collaboration with Clementine!

    And that's all for this week! Check back next week for more coffee content!

  • Distilled Water: Should You Switch?

    This is an update to an article we posted in 2012, which can be found here!

    One of the most important elements of brewing coffee is the water you use to brew with. By using cold, filtered water you'll get better tasting coffee that's better for your machine. The reason filtered water is recommended is because harder water with high mineral content harms machines. This kind of water leads to limescale build up, requiring a "descaling" of your machine. By using filtered water you sidestep this issue and get better tasting coffee too. So why not simply use distilled water and remove minerals from the equation entirely? Well, for a couple of reasons!

    coffee in clear glass pitcherMachine Health

    The biggest reason you should avoid distilled water is the damage it can cause to equipment. Water naturally bonds to minerals, it's why groundwater is so rich in those minerals in the first place. Distilled water removes the minerals, but not the propensity for water to bond with them. This means that water with a low enough mineral content can sit in a machine and leech minerals from its surroundings. When sitting inside a fancy espresso machine, this means that it'll leach the minerals found in the brass, copper, steel, and nickel that make up the pipes, boiler, and reservoir of most machines. Further, some machines use a very tiny electrical charge to determine whether or not there is water in the reservoir. If the water contained is devoid of minerals, it may not pick up the charge and register, triggering the "reservoir empty" light.

    But what about flavor?

    Coffee Flavor

    As we know, coffee extraction is a chemical process. Water that is too hard doesn't have enough "room" for the coffee to bond with the water molecules. Think of a sponge, one saturated with clear water, and the other dry. If you were to submerge the sponge in a bowl of food-colored water, what would happen? While the already soaked sponge would pick up some color, the dry sponge would pick up more. This is similar to what is happening to coffee as it extracts. On the flip-side, too much empty space (too dry of a sponge) will over-extract the coffee, resulting in a bitter flavor.

    The Specialty Coffee Association has determined that a 150 parts per million degree of minerals is the best balance. This provides enough minerals to keep the coffee from over-saturating, but not a hardness that impedes the process. Given all this, your best route to the best coffee is still good ol' fashioned filtered water!

  • Plenty to Boast About!

    We've got plenty to boast about today! New to our roaster lineup is Boast Coffee Co., straight from San José CA! Boast offers a small but sweet line of single origins alongside a easy drinking blend. Let's dig in to their lineup!

    Level Up

    Level up is an easy to drink blend that highlights some of the key characteristics of Boast's roasting style. This blend features a light roastiness that evokes earthier tones that its chocolatey notes enhance. Also present is a sweeter cherry note that ties this coffee's flavor profile together into an approachable package. This one is a great option for drip brewing and worth a try as an espresso!

    Peru Puno Medium

    Peru Puno is the first of Boast's single origins that we'll be taking a look at. This roast is rich and sweet. We described it as a German chocolate cake in coffee form, and this really comes through in a pourover. A delicious choice for those who really love deeper, fuller cups of coffee.

    Guatemala Cimarron Medium

    This roast's nuttier notes really come through in a sweet and satisfying way. The first of Boast's 1-2 punch of Guatemalan roasts, this is the darker version. We love the way this roast's almond notes creates a sort of cookie taste. It makes for a really drinkable and delicious cup of coffee that is great for a morning brew or an afternoon pick-me-up.

    Guatemala Cimarron Light

    The lighter side of the coffee above. This roast retains the flavor notes but exchanges the richer baked good flavor for some more bright. This bright bit of acidity may not appeal to every coffee drinker, but trying both roasts offers a unique study in how roast profiles differ. For those who prefer less heavy roasts, this may be the best recommendation of the bunch!

    Check out our full offering of Boast roasts, we're sure you'll find some coffee you'll love!

     

  • Introducing: TOCA Coffee

    TOCA Coffee is a brand new roaster to SCG coming all the way from New Jersey! This roaster is available in coffee shops across that state and in New York, and has an excellent reputation for quality. TOCA is a family business, with a deep dedication to providing high quality coffee. Obvious as that may sound, this roaster's commitment to quality is notable in the ways it informs the roasting process, and it shows in the roasts! TOCA's blends offer a balance and drinkability that doesn't sacrifice interesting notes. This is an exciting prospect for any coffee drinker that is interested in exploring a wider range of roasts but doesn't like more challenging, intense coffees. On the flipside, TOCA's single origins maintain the sense of adventure you'd expect from that style of roast.

    Maya Blue

    This blend of Latin American beans tastes darker than you'd expect from a medium roast. The result is coffee that is approachable for fans of lighter coffee that maintains a smokier flavor. We're impressed by this blend in a drip/filter brew.

    Halcyon Days

    This blend offers a brighter take on blends than what you might be used to. Full of brighter citrus and sweet notes, Halcyon Days also brings a smooth body with just enough acidity. Perfect for a range of brew methods, this blend of Ethiopian and Sumatran beans is a great place to start for fans of lighter roasts.

    Amasia Espresso

    No roaster's catalog is complete without a delicious espresso blend! Amasia is so named in reference to colliding tectonic plates bringing the Americas and Asia together in the distant future. This inspiration comes from the blend's mix of Sumatran, Guatemalan, and Brazilian beans. The result is a sweet, syrupy set of notes with smokey undertones, perfect for espresso!

     

    We hope TOCA's roasts tickle your tastebuds for years to come. Check out their full catalog here!

     

  • New Product: Jura Z8

    Last week we took a look at the Jura D6, but that's not the only new Jura machine! The Z8 is a high end machine with an extensive featureset that justifies its high price point. So what sets this machine apart from its sibling machines?

    Connectivity and Performance

    The Z8 takes the stellar performance of Jura's existing machines and adds in a whole lot of connectivity and ease of use features.

    The most noticeable addition is the 4.3 inch touchscreen. This display is clear and concise, and reminds us of a high quality mobile device. The interface is extremely clear and easy to use, giving you a huge degree of control over your drinks.

    This machine also features smart visual touches like a blue-lit water tank, smart tracked filtration, and one-touch options for your favorite drinks. On the whole the Z8 offers 21 drink recipes, most of them with a high degree of customization.

    The Z8 also connects to Jura's J.O.E. mobile app, giving you control of this machine via bluetooth.

    None of this would matter if the machine didn't perform, but thankfully, the Z8 does. Using Jura's P.E.P. brewing process, this machines brews hot, well extracted espresso. The Z8 also steams impressive milk using the included cappuccinotore.

    Overall, this is a strong machine operating at the top end of the superautomatic price range. Check out the Z8 on Seattle Coffee Gear right here!

  • Water Temperature and Why It Matters

    It's a common refrain: The perfect water temperature for brewing coffee is 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. But why is this? In most brewing guides it will explain that this is the ideal temperature for "proper extraction," but what IS extraction? What are we even talking about!? Read on to learn more about water temps and coffee extraction!

    close-up photography of bottle

    What's Extraction?

    So what do we mean when we say extraction? Extractions is simply the act of dissolving the solubles from the coffee grounds and bonding them with the water. One way to conceptualize this is to imagine water saturating your grounds during brewing, and that water pulling the good parts out of the grounds as it passes through them. The filter then stops the leftover gritty, grimy bits of the coffee. The stuff that ends up in your cup is water bonded with the flavorful, caffeinated parts of the coffee.

    But what does temperature really have to do with this?

    Coffee extraction, or brewing, is a chemical process. Things like grind fineness, amount, and water temp matter because chemistry happens in the brewer as you brew! On a simple level, things like grind fineness can make it easier for the water molecules to bond with the coffee grounds. Temperature plays into this as well! In truth, you can actually brew coffee with water of any temperature, the problem is control. Cold water extracts very slowly, which is why cold brew can take many hours to properly, well, brew. On the flip-side, near boiling water extracts coffee VERY quickly. Since varying flow rate is even more challenging than controlling temperature, and since temperature is constant, it's the variable that is easiest to control.

    For all of these reasons, we've determined a 195-205 degree Fahrenheit range as being the best for coffee. The remaining question, of course, is where exactly should you set your kettle? 204? 196? This is going to come down to the roast and brew method more than anything. Some brew methods, like AeroPress, work even better below 195, but for simplicity's sake we'll stick to the 195-205 range. In general, presses work best lower in the range, as the pressure of the press aids in extraction. On the opposite side is pourover, which is usually better brewed around or above 200 degrees Fahrenheit. That said, all of this really comes down to the taste of the roast.

    More bitter roasts tend to want cooler water, closer to 195. On the other hand, if your coffee turns out sour, try brewing a little hotter to aid in proper extraction.

    Either way, there's plenty of room for experimentation! The most important thing is using an adjustable kettle like the Fellow Stagg or the Bonavita Variable kettle. Armed with these tools and the knowledge above, you'll be ready to really experiment with water temp!

     

  • Introducing the All New Miele CM5300!

    Miele has brought quality coffee to kitchens around the world for a while now. The CM6 series offers powerful programmability, great performance, and ease of use. Joining the 6 series is the all new CM 5300!

    New Footprint, New Price

    The CM5300 is, at its core, the same quality brewer as the 6 series' offerings. It still provides delicious espresso and milk drinks, features easy cleaning, and offers powerful programming options. It also clocks in at a lower price, with some upgrades in other areas.

    While the CM5300 lacks a hot water spout, this has allowed for a slimmer footprint. This is a great help for smaller kitchens, where space is often a serious consideration when considering a machine purchase. this slimmer case also comes in slick new colors, without sacrificing the cup warmer or other capabilities.

    Exquisite Programming

    One of the things that this machine can't be praised enough more is programming options. While it's standard to see things like a serving doubler, volume control, and other bells and whistles on high dollar machines, the CM5300 offers these features for less. The double serving option is great for making two lattes or espressos, but can also be used for larger containers like travel mugs. These sorts of options being offered at this lower price point are very exciting!

    It helps that all of this is backed by a longstanding tradition of performance in the CM6 series too. Programmability is great, but if the milk or coffee quality isn't there then it's hard to justify the price of one of these machines. The CM5300 offers that same taste and texture produced by the CM6, just with the changes mentioned above.

    We're sure you'll be just as excited about this machine as we are once you see (and taste) what it has to offer, so check out the Miele CM5300 here now!

  • Roast of the Month: Tony's Ethiopia Deri Kochoha

    It's time once again for Roast of the Month! This month we're featuring an incredibly delicious Ethiopia from Tony's Coffee. Tony's offers consistently good coffee, so we've been excited to see how they handle this roast!

    This natural Ethiopia comes from the Deri Kochoha processing station. Roasts from this station were really exciting last year, so we're happy to see Tony's deliver a delicious finish to these beans!

    The Deri Kochoha processing station processes coffee from approximately 600 farmers. This diversity in producers really affects the beans that leave the station. It means that from year to year, this processor develops wildly different exports. The coffee is dried on raised tables in a natural process, leading to the intense berry notes in this roast.

    Rich, Sweet, Smooth

    And intense they are! The flavors on display here are strawberry, cocoa, and peach. We think Tony's nailed these notes, with the strawberry really taking the lead. If you're familiar with naturals, you'll be familiar with the strongest flavors here. Like the all of the best naturals, this Tony's opens up into rich chocolatey notes that fold into the strawberry flavors wonderfully. What really sets this coffee apart is how it finished. A soft stonefruit note finishes the flavor palate, leaving you with a pleasant, fruity, but mild aftertaste. It's a great invitation to take another sip!

    This is a delicious roast for pourover brew methods, which bring out the brighter, berry notes deliciously. After you get the full range of flavors out of the pourover, this is a roast that some will love as an espresso. It's tricky to dial in single origins, even more so when you're working with a natural that has stronger flavors. That said, the results can be phenomenal!

    However you decide to brew Ethiopia Deri Kochoha, we're sure you'll love this excellent roast from Tony's. Grab a bag right here today!

  • To Heat Or Not To Heat?

    One complaint we often see is that brewers don't keep coffee hot long enough. This, or that they don't brew at a high enough temperature. While we'd never tell someone how to enjoy their coffee, we thought we might share some insight on what's up with all this temperature talk!

    white ceramic cup filled with black liquid on top of saucerBrew Temp

    Generally, it's agreed that coffee is best brewed at 198-202 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason for this is chemical. It's a complicated topic, but suffice to to say that we can scientifically guarantee that this temperature range produces the best coffee when brewing drip. For some coffee drinkers, that's just not hot enough! We can respect a want for a hotter brew, but the fact of the matter is that high quality drip brewers stick to this temperature range. Cheap brewers often start at lower temps and then shoot up to temps above this range, scorching the coffee. A high quality drip brewer will maintain the ideal temperature the whole way through.

    So what's the answer if you want hotter coffee? Really, it's to drink lighter roasts! Darker roasts extract at lower temps, so your cup will get very bitter if brewed too hot. Lighter roasts may lose some complexity at higher temps, but you can enjoy them hotter with less bitterness.

    Warming Plat Woes

    The other component of this equation is keeping the coffee hot in the pot. First of all, by warming the pot with some hot water before you brew, the coffee will keep its temp as it hits the carafe. This is a huge help, because a room temp put will suck some of that heat as the coffee brews! The other element is carafe type and heating plate. Sometimes we get complaints that high end brewers don't have plates that stay on all day. This is a feature, not a bug! By sitting in a glass carafe on a heating plate, coffee tends to scorch and burn over time, leading to an awful taste. If you plan to drink a pot more than two hours later (the shutoff time for most heating plates) we recommend brewing a fresh one then!

    Another option for maintaining heat is to switch to a stainless steel carafe. If pre-warmed, a well insulated stainless carafe can keep coffee hot for hours. This works especially well if your palate doesn't notice the metallic taste!

    Of course, all of this changes when you introduce pressure to create espresso!

  • Introducing Quills Coffee Roasting

    Here at Seattle Coffee Gear we offer a wide range of roasters. From established, recognizable standbys to up and coming outfits, we love to support our roasting partners. It's not every day that we add a new roaster to our lineup, so we always like a take a moment to recognize when we do! With that, we're excited to offer Quills Coffee!

    Community, Family, Quality

    Quills Coffee was started in 2007 by Nathan Quillo. Quillo's passion for coffee led him along the tried and tested path of enthusiast, to barista, to roaster. With his brother's help, they built and opened their first shop, in the Germantown neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky. Since then Quills has worked to build a strong, passionate community around their coffee. It's clear in their messaging that fostering the larger coffee community is a key component of their past, present, and future.

    But what about the coffee? We're happy to say, it's great. Quills' signature blend, Southern Gothic, acts as a great introduction to their catalogue. Featuring classic coffee flavors with impeccable balance, this is a great introduction to Quills and craft coffee in general. If you're more of an espresso drinker, Blacksmith's got you covered. This syrupy, sweet, and rich blend is the perfect pair with a new espresso machine, or if you're just looking for that classic espresso taste.

    Beyond the blends, Quills' single origin offering shows that they're not happy with just being "classic." Their tangy, dynamic Colombian shows off their adventurous side. Meanwhile, their Peru is a delicious, sweeter single origin that performs admirably via a number of brew methods.

    The main through-lines in all of these roasts are quality and balance. Quills pride themselves on offering a delicious, well balanced cup of coffee, and we think they nail it. Check out everything Quills at SCG here, and pick up a bag today!

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